This week’s blog entry is written by guest author Tiffany Blackburn. Tiffany is a graduate of Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program. She can be contacted at tiffanyblackburn.com.
It took me so long to practice yoga for myself. I went to countless classes over the years, dutifully doing everything the instructor called out. I did every “if you want to work harder…” option that was offered and I never accepted the invitation to “rest if you need to.” I reached higher, sank deeper, stretched further whenever the teacher walked by or glanced my way. I compared myself relentlessly to the stronger, more flexible people on the mats around me, and struggled to keep up. I was practicing to please the instructors and to gain the admiration of my fellow students. I was practicing with the exact opposite of mindfulness — I was practicing mindlessly.
The result was pretty predictable: injury after injury. But I kept at it because I believed the the fault was with my body, with myself for not working hard enough. That was part of the reason I looked into a teacher training. I wanted to learn more about yoga because simply taking classes wasn’t providing me with the answers I wanted, specifically “why wasn’t I doing it right?”
It wasn’t until I researched training programs that I really came to understand the differences in yoga styles. In my quest, I took an introductory series in Viniyoga at Whole Life Yoga. I went in feeling like I already knew a lot about yoga, but Viniyoga was such a different experience that I was blown away. The movements were so careful, and the use of breath brought my practice so much more internal than it had ever been before. The nurturing attitude, the non-competitive atmosphere, the thoughtful instructions all combined to finally allow me to relax on my mat and actually notice what was going on in my body and my mind. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with other styles of yoga, but I do think that my experience with Viniyoga was what it took for me to finally “get it.”
Over time, practicing and attending the 200-hour Viniyoga teacher training, I came to better understand both yoga and myself. I’ve come closer to accepting the fact that we all have limitations, and some things just don’t work for my body. I found that easing up a little has actually allowed me to progress further, and that it doesn’t matter what anyone around me is doing. Now I frequently take the opportunity to rest during practice — even if the teacher is looking.
Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle!